The Chinese military is rapidly modernizing and growing, spending an unknown amount of money on sophisticated weapons systems. The army of China has almost as many tanks as the US, while its navy has an aircraft carrier, massive hovercraft, and nuclear submarines in secret bases with access to vital shipping lanes.
Beyond that, China has weapons even the US doesn't have. One of these is a fearsome anti-ship missile that might have the capability to sink an American aircraft carrier. China also has over a hundred thousand cyber-warfare soldiers dedicated to everything from large-scale espionage to hacking to online smear campaigns. Add that to the thousands of planes and tanks they have, and China's military is indeed fearsome.Here are some of the most frightening facts about China's armed forces.
Secret Submarine Bases Hold Dozens of NukesPhoto: FAS.orgThe Chinese Navy's Yulin Naval Base might be able to hold as many as 20 nuclear submarines, and it's located underground, next to a small already-existing base, in a critical location at the mouth of the South China Sea. What makes Yulin even more alarming is that it's officially secret, and China has never acknowledged it exists. Other secret Chinese bases, for both subs and surface ships, are speculated to be under construction at major naval choke points around Asia.
They're Buying Huge Hovercraft from UkrainePhoto: via YouTubeChina has bought two massive Zubr-class hovercraft tank landing ships from Ukraine, and built two more. The Zubr is three times as big as the equivalent US ship, and can land three tanks, eight APCs, or nearly 400 troops on virtually any kind of beach environment. It also carries a range of missiles and quick-firing guns. Scholars claim that if China invaded Taiwan, they'd need these vessels to land armor on Taiwan's swampy western beaches.
They Have a Missile That Can Knock Out SatellitesPhoto: IceUnshattered / Wikimedia CommonsIn 2007, China conducted the first successful test of an anti-satellite missile since the US in 1985. The test vehicle, called SC-19, was launched using a modified DF-31 ballistic missile to fire a kinetic kill vehicle at a moving satellite, destroying it in the process. China appears to have tested a second SC-19 weapon in 2010, while the debris from the first test will likely remain in Earth orbit for decades.
They Have Almost as Many Tanks as the USPhoto: Max Smith / WikipediaChina's ground forces have between six and seven thousand tanks, a mix of modern main battle tanks and Cold War era knockoffs. By contrast, the US has about 8,800 tanks, though all are modern M1 models. China also has thousands of self-propelled artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, and other modern vehicles.